With a new lead singer in Nathan Biggs, replacing Roland Johansson who departed when the band was on the verge of breaking in countries outside of Europe, Sonic Syndicate return with the smashing new album “We Rule Night”.
Without virtually missing a beat, the band whet the appetite of it’s fans by releasing an EP “Burn This City” just months after the UK born and bred Biggs joined the band, along with a bunch of shows that reinforced that the band was still a live force to be reckoned with.
On the album “We Rule The Night”, their third with Nuclear Blast, the band employed the services of legendary producer Toby Wright (Kiss, Motley Crue, Korn, Alice In Chains and Slayer) and have delivered an album that has taken their sound to a new level that captures the energy of their live shows, with songs that blend melody and crushing metal.
We caught up with new singer Nathan Biggs to chat about the album, how he has settled into Swedish life and the bands touring plans for the rest of the year.
Given you have relocated from the UK to join the band, how have you settled into Sweden? Have you, picked up on any of the language yet haha!
Well basically as soon as the audition went, the band was like “we need you here”. So I was like fine! I sold my house, sold my dog, sold my girlfriend haha and moved here like a month after the audition. It’s a little hard to have picked up the language yet as we have been on tour so much, so unless we are in Sweden, everyone mainly speaks English out on tour. Everyone here is so good at English anyway, as soon as they hear me and realise I am not Swedish, they start talking English. As soon as we have a few spare moments I will take some classes and learn Swedish, but right now it’s just too busy…not that I am complaining!
Where you a fan/familiar with the band prior to joining?
Yes I knew about them. I was familiar with a few of the songs and I like a few of those Swedish death metal bands like Soilwork. I went to go and see In Flames play a show in England and I saw Sonic Syndicate live supporting them and they really blew me away and then I think it was only a couple of months later that I heard they were after a vocalist. I thought yes, I really think I could do something with this band.
How did you personally find the experience coming into the band and virtually straight into playing shows?
Well I suppose some people may find those experiences like being thrown into the deep end maybe, but I just totally got off on it. I am an adrenalin junky and love playing live, which is one of my favourite parts of being on a band. I was confident in my performance and we were getting along so well that it was our decision to go on tour. We just wanted to get out and play given how great we were sounding, so yeah that experience was amazing.
Within almost weeks of you joining the band, you released an EP which certainly got a lot of people excited for the new album. Was the intention behind doing that, as much as a statement to the fans as anything else?
Yeah exactly, we gave the fans something as we didn’t want to leave them dry for too long, so we made sure we did that EP. It kind of happened really naturally. I came over in July last year and the original plan was to not tour that much, just focus on the album and wait until the following year to release it. But we got together and we started to practice loads and the old songs started sounding really amazing and then we started working on some new ideas which came together really quickly and then we demoed them and showed them to our management who went “fuck, these are really good, we gotta show these to the record label”. So the record label were like “yeah, go record it, here’s some money!”. So we went and did that EP and then did a tour off the back of that single really. We toured our asses off, just to say we’re Sonic Syndicate, we haven’t gone anywhere, we are just as bad ass! So that went really well and then we went to work on the album.
Now onto your new album “We Rule The Night”. The producer was Toby Wright who has worked with Korn, Ozzy, Sevendust to name a few. How was the experience working with him and how much influence did he have over the album and the structure of the songs, or was it more just the sound?
I guess Toby was more about the sound of the record, but he also acted like a mediator within the group. We wanted these songs to be more punchy and catchy and more melodic than ever. He didn’t change the music as such, as we wrote all the music, but he helped trim away some of the fat in songs like does that intro need to go for that long etc. So he was really good at getting the songs to the point. We took 10 days before we even went into the studio to just go through the songs with Toby and just really work on them and get them to how they should be even before we took them into the studio. Then they just got better again when we were in the studio.
How did you go about recording the album this time around, do you know if the band used your introduction to completely change up the dynamics of the band in the studio?
Well this is a really important album to us, it’s our 3rd album on Nuclear Blast and obviously my first with the band. We just wanted to do the best album we could and also a different album. As a band we wanted to evolve, everyone in the band has the same kind of mentality. “Just keep moving, don’t do the same thing and repeat yourself”. Whilst they implemented that on previous albums, we really wanted to do that on this album as well. With me coming into the mix it was a great opportunity to do that. With the actual recording process, yes there was a lot of stuff done differently. As a band socially we all get along really well and the energy we have on tour is just so brilliant. We just wanted to capture the positive energy between us and put it on an album and a lot of that positivity is there as it’s an uplifting album. We are really proud of our live show, so we were keen to capture that live feel. Toby saw us live and said you gotta get that on the album. So rather than doing quick takes of song parts and copy and pasting, every instrument we played the songs all the way through. If we start a song, then we end a song and do whole takes. We did that with the vocals as well. There’s two vocalists in Sonic, so we had a piece of sound proof glass between myself and Richie and we recorded our vocals at the same time, I think that was a really cool way to get that energy on there as well.
What was the songwriting process for the band for the album, do you know if that changed significantly to what the band has done previously?
With the lyrics it’s all Richie and me. As far as vocal melodies, guitar parts and song structuring it’s definitely a whole band. It’s kind of what we have been saying, this is how Sonic Syndicate really sounds. In the past maybe it has been one or two members taking songs into the studio and saying, here are some finished songs. This time I thunk the band found it’s groove a lot more, more like a rock n roll sound because we all did it very organically in the studio, together. Robin or Roger would bring in a guitar riff and then we would just Jam it out and I would out a vocal melody and keep building on it until the sings were finished that way. I think the songs cane together a kit more quickly and efficiently because of that.
The interplay between the heavy and clean vocals helps create a chaotic dynamic, how much difficulty did you have whilst recording to achieve this dynamic?
Me an Rich the other vocalist work really well together and take it in turns to write songs, but we always help each other out. We wrote like half the songs each on the album, but we would both come together and check out each others parts. It just all came together naturally really. He does all the scream vocals and I do all the melodic vocals and it just happens haha!
The songs on the album are their own individual beasts each throwing up something different, with the diversity of songs, is this as much a reflection of the influences each of you bring to the band?
What you said is pretty much it. We are all into different bands and music but also into a lot of similar things as well. Every fucking band say that they want to do a “dynamic” album, but we really wanted to and I definitely think that we have. We have some old school type Sonic Syndicate songs, we have some hard rock stuff, there’s a pop ballad and an industrial type song along the lines of Nine Inch Nails/Linkin Park kind of thing.
Each song is high on an infectious melody/hookline, this is obviously something the band places a high priority on?
Yes the songs do have these elements, we have some heavy guitars, but we are all about having big ass melodies and really catchy melodies people can sing along too. That’s one of the things Sonic is really all about and that’s present on a lot of the songs throughout the album.
“We Rule The Night” as an album title and songs like Burn This City, Turn It Up, Black N Blue, is there any specific significance behind some of these themes?
It’s weird, I think a lot of that was coincidental but I guess it’s also a reflection of the attitudes and emotion flying around when we made the album. The title We Rule The Night” is just like a really in your face title. I thunk it’s got a lot of hidden meaning though too. We live to play live and every single night we kill it in stage then we like to party afterwards with our fans and stuff. We always have a hood time on tour, so that’s one way that we rule the night! Also, I think this is a really important album for us and we wanted to have a “were doing this album for us, fuck you” kind of attitude almost. A lot of people are scared of things that lurk in the dark etc, and I guess this album is our statement to say wet are not scared of anything!
You have made a few killer videos for the songs “Burn This City”, “Revolution, Baby” which looked like a lot of fun to make, did you think so at the time though haha?
I love it! Some people don’t like doing the videos as they think it’s all about the music, but I love everything there is to do about being in a band. To be able to make some wicked videos and have so much fun on the set is really good. “Burn This City” which was the first one we did had a lot of green screen and we also got to ride around in those monster trucks which was cool! “Revolution, Baby” which was the first single off “We Rule The Night”, literally we just set up a PA system and rocked out really hard in a skate park and that was just a really raw video, kind of what the songs like. “My Own Life”, we wanted to make a really pretty video for it, and we did! We got so much support from our label, they really believe in us and it’s brilliant!
How did you find the experience of playing at the Download Festival back home in the UK a few months ago?
Being from the UK, that was a really big thing for me to play Donnington. Ever since I was a little kid I used to travel hours to get there and queue up and I would get all fucking dirty camping and stuff. We played on the Ronnie James Dio stage and it was just amassing. It’s one of those moments in my life that I can tick off to day yeah, I have done it! We get a great response every time we come back to the Uk now. It’s also brilliant to have the UK people support me going over to Sweden. I think we get a lot of support from that!
You have the rest of your year pretty much taken up with touring all over Europe don’t you?
Exactly and I don’t think it’s going to stop after this year with our “We Rule The World Tour” and we have every intention of making it a world tour. This is like the European leg, the first stretch, we are heading out in mid September and we are not coming back home to Sweden until Christmas time. Our booking agent and management are really looking at getting us over to Australia and America next year so hopefully that will be confirmed soon. I was actually just saying today to Karin, we get so many messages from people in Australia in particular wanting us to come over there and play which is just insane.
Band Members: Nathan J Biggs – Vocals, Karin Axelsson – Bass, Richard Sjunnesson – Vocals, Roger Sjunnesson – Guitars, Robin Sjunnesson – Guitars, John Bengtsson – Drums
Latest Release: We Rule The Night (Nuclear Blast / Riot! Entertainment)